Consistent, robust dreaming not so easy
by Dale Short
Mar 13, 2014 | 634 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dale Short
Dale Short
Many dark moons ago, when I lived in Birmingham, I belonged to a small group of folks who met once a month to do Freudian dream study. We were required to write down all our dreams in a journal, and we discussed them to determine what insight the great psychologist Sigmund Freud’s analytical method might offer about them if he were still with us.

One thing I found out, early on, is that when dreams realize you’re actually paying attention to them, they make the most of it by putting on their tap shoes and showing off. Can’t blame them. On the plus side, I was delighted because I’d been afraid my good old rural dreams might need some “oomph” added to them, to be ready for prime time in the big city. No such problem. But on the down side, writing down all the feverish twists and turns of my amplified dream state got to be a labor of such “Gone With the Wind” proportion that I eventually dropped out of the group.

What brings the subject to mind these days is that my dreams have slacked off, big-time. They’re still of a dependable quality and almost never turn so bad as to wake me up screaming, but achieving good consistent story lines is an ongoing problem. Having a dozen or so small dreams isn’t nearly as satisfying as a blockbuster that crescendoes between the ears just as you get sufficiently awake to smell the coffee brewing.

One recent example: in a dream that started off very promisingly, I was in Birmingham to see a new super-sized fairground that had been built between downtown and the old Fair Park site in West End. The entrance to this extravaganza was in the old Alabama Theater. I bought my ticket, got a couple of corn dogs for later, and was out on the street again before I realized I hadn’t gotten a map. The clanging exit door was a one-way, so I couldn’t get back in.

A boy of about 13 sensed my predicament and told me he could give me great directions in exchange for a corn dog. We ate our impromptu lunch and headed off down the bustling avenue, but less than a minute later we got separated in the crowd and I was mapless and foodless to boot. The End.

Such dreams fit under the category “Losses, Regrets, and Disappointments,” which seem to occupy the biggest mental file folder of all as one gets older and, some might say, less naive. But hopeful dreams still spring eternal, I’m finding, especially with the onset of spring. In last night’s example, I was reading a dream version of Facebook and started seeing posts from a group of folks who apparently gathered down by the library each morning at daylight, in their pickup trucks, to check the messages on their laptops and catch up on the day’s news. I pointed out to them that the library wasn’t open yet, but one lady said the light was prettiest at that hour of the morning and besides, the free wi-fi worked just fine from the parking lot. There was a beautiful little creek on the corner where, a man pointed out, he made a campfire each morning to brew coffee for the other folks who had gathered. This scene sounded so inviting that I made a note to myself to join them at the library the next day, even though I don’t have a pickup truck. Just then, the lady wrote a note that said, “If the weather’s this good tomorrow, I’m bringing my smudge pot.” My mind froze. The only use I know for burning smudge pots is to keep fruit trees from freezing, which told me that the lady is either (a) not from around here, or (b) living in a imaginary world of her own, and I un-marked my mental calendar for coffee by the creek tomorrow.

And I added the dream fragment to the second-largest category, for me, these days:

“Good While It Lasted.”

Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, photos and radio features are available on his website, His weekly radio program “Music from Home” airs each Sunday at 6 p.m. on Oldies 101.5 FM, streams live online at and is archived afterward on his website.)